Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Catching a clue

I see via Atrios that Eugene Volokh is disturbed by the latest episode of the Washington Times' utter lack of ethics, and wonders why those on the left aren't up in arms about it. Both Atrios and Mark Kleiman correctly point out that this episode is nothing new; those on the left are probably unconcerned because they know that this instance is utterly in character.

Indeed, the pertinent question isn't why the left isn't jumping all over the Times for this, but why the ostensibly responsible mainstream right lends the paper even a shred of credibility in the first place. After all:

-- The editor-in-chief to whom Volokh refers, Wesley Pruden, has a long history of advocacy for the neo-Confederate movement and sundry "Southern heritage" causes (his father was a notorious arch-segregationist and leader of the white-supremacist Capital Citizens Councils in Arkansas) -- including interviews in the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan and attending United Daughters of the Confederacy functions. And Robert Stacy McCain, the paper's assistant national editor, as Michelangelo Signorile has detailed, has a similar background, including associations with the white-supremacist American Renaissance magazine. Indeed, the rhetoric of these two combines to make Trent Lott look like Morris Dees.

-- The paper has promoted a wide range of groundless conspiracy theories for which it has never straightened the record, let alone apologized, ranging from Patriot-style "New World Order" claims and cockamamie "tax protest" theories to the "murder" of Vincent Foster to the Oklahoma City bombing. Indeed, Wesley Pruden himself was responsible for the paper publishing and promoting the utterly groundless smear about Bill Clinton's supposed black "love child," which the paper later refused to correct or retract.

-- Finally, as noted here previously, the Times' grossly unethical behavior may have played a significant role in the string of intelligence failures that ultimately resulted in the 9/11 attacks.

The pertinent question remains: When will the Eugene Volokhs of the world finally acknowledge that conservatives' "paper of record" is journalistically irredeemable?

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